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Aldous Huxley

(1894—1963) writer


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(1894–1963),

grandson of T. H. Huxley and brother of Julian Huxley. By 1919, when he began to write for Murry in the Athenaeum, he had already published three volumes of verse; a volume of stories, Limbo (1920), was followed by Crome Yellow (1921), a country‐house satire which earned him a reputation for precocious brilliance and cynicism, and which much offended Lady Ottoline Morrell whom Huxley had frequently visited at Garsington. During the 1920s and 1930s Huxley lived in Italy, then France; in this period he wrote much fiction, including Mortal Coils (1922, stories; includes ‘The Gioconda Smile’); Antic Hay (1923, set in post‐war London's nihilistic Bohemia); Those Barren Leaves (1925, set in Italy); and Point Counter Point (1928), in which were recognized portraits of his friend D. H. Lawrence as Rampion and Murry as Burlap. Brave New World (1932), his most popular work, was followed by Eyeless in Gaza (1936). Huxley left for California in 1937, partly in search (with his friend Gerald Heard, 1889– ) of new spiritual direction. He continued to write in many genres: novels include After Many a Summer (1939), in which Heard appears as the mystic Propter, and Island (1962), an optimistic Utopia; and other works include essays, historical studies, travel works, and The Devils of Loudun (1952), a study in sexual hysteria which became the basis of Whiting's play The Devils. He became deeply interested in mysticism and parapsychology; The Doors of Perception (1954) and Heaven and Hell (1956) describe his experiments with mescalin and LSD.

Huxley's novels with their mixture of satire and earnestness, of apparent brutality and humanity, have led some to dismiss them as smart and superficial, a symptom rather than an interpretation of a hollow age; others have seen them as brilliant and provocative ‘novels of ideas’ written by a man who was not by nature a novelist.

Subjects: literature.


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